Volume 3: Be a prisoner to routine, it’s freeing!

TOM WHITE OWNER OF SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT HAIRDRESSERS IN WINDSOR MELBOURNENow I know the title is an oxymoron, but I promise you there isn’t anything truer. This month I want to talk about planning and routines. It seems such a simple concept, but I would say most people I have met really struggle with it. It requires grit, more specifically, perseverance. Routines in our life are imperative to keep moving forward and to keep achieving.

Over the last 4 years I have been studying the process’ and lifestyles of a few idols of mine. Now, my idols aren’t footballers or pop stars, David Beckham’s right foot was probably the exception, but my idols are mainly in business. People like Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cordone, Brene Brown and Steven Kotler. Over the 4 years, I have seen one major common dominator in all their lives……ROUTINE and PLANNING.

Why is planning your day so important?

Your brain receives millions of bits of information every second but can only process and acknowledge around 125 bits of it. If someone is talking to you, that takes up, on average, 40 bits of that space to understand the conversation enough for you to reply. So, if you are in conversation with 3 people at any one time then your brain won’t be able to compute any more info or acknowledge your surroundings. Knowing that, we can then understand more clearly that it’s important for us to have as much brain bits available second to second to consume as much relevant information as possible. If we are using our brain’s capacity to work out our next move or next task during the day and trying to solve the conundrum of “what was I supposed to do today/next”, then we are using up vital bits that we could be using to actually complete the tasks we need to get done.

How do we solve this?

Well, it isn’t sexy and there isn’t any magic trick. Its cold, hard routine and planning. Let me explain the two.

Science shows that planning your day out in advance, preferably the night before or after you have finished work, gives you the best chance of that next day being a successful move forward. Once your ‘to-do list’ is written out, all you have to do is work from start to finish and tick them off as you go. It keeps your brain free to focus on the tasks at hand and is by far the biggest contributor to peak performance. Not only is it ideal for peak performance, but it will keep the build-up of that anxious feeling of ‘not doing what you could have done’ at bay. It makes you efficient with your time because you aren’t trying to work out what to do next or having that brain block of having to work out your next task before the completion of the task you are working on.

How to do your ‘to-do list’

Always prioritise the biggest or hardest task first. The one that, when you look at it, it makes your toes curl. That’s the one that will give you the biggest dopamine hit on completion that will drive your perseverance. Then deal with the second biggest or hardest task, so on so forth. I guarantee that the more you do, the greater resilience you build to complete tasks, the more tasks you can complete, the further along your path you are to making that day as productive as it can be!

Planning can’t happen without routine.

Consistent planning doesn’t happen outside of having a routine. Routines are the hardest discipline to master because it is generally boring and requires us to be accountable to ourselves, but when it is mastered, the results are obvious. Doing things consistently everyday at the same time, over and over again, creates memory pathways inside the brain which then allows the brain to not have to think about that task, ensuring that these tasks aren’t taking up much of the 125 bits of info we can digest, allowing us to be more aware of what is going on around us.

Everything from getting up out of bed at the same time, getting ready for work in a particular order, all the way through to the food you consume, gym workouts and what time you write down your plan for tomorrow. All of it is important. My routine is identical 6 days out of 7, from the time I wake up all the way through to when I go to bed. Yes, sometimes I think it’s boring, yes I struggle some days for sure, but I always stick to it because I know its part of the recipe needed to move forward in my life.   

Routine has allowed me to maximise my time each day, ensuring that whatever needed to get done that day was completed with 100% of my being. Ever since I made the commitment to stick to my routine, my performance has been on a level and my resilience to deal with life’s challenges has multiplied.

If you are struggling to get moving, struggling to clear your mind, I would say Planning and Routine is your way out of that plateau. Once you nail your daily routine, you will be surprised at what else you can achieve and build, but that chat is for next month. In the meantime, commit to a 28 day routine, go all in!! Compare how you feel at the end of it to how you feel at the beginning, analyse how you look at tasks and see how your resilience has grown. I promise you, it will change your life.

Big love and see you all soon in the salon.


P.S. As always, I love hearing your feedback on the blog. Let me know whether you are attempting the 28-day routine and planning challenge, let me know how you are going.